Let us take this opportunity to be the last to wish you a Happy New Year 2020! As we kick off a new year, it’s a great time to take stock of the state of beer in our region, with the number of breweries having exploded since the Atlantic Canada Beer Blog started on January 1, 2012. As we inevitably hurtle towards 200 breweries and cideries across the region, one of the stories we continue to hear is the markets outside of the big cities being served by small breweries opening there, and serving as a gathering place for locals. We hope that trend continues in 2020, as there are still many places in the region where getting a locally made pint are near-impossible.
Halifax’s Propeller Brewing is releasing the latest in their line of “solo hop showcase” beers (think Cascade, Azacca, and Galaxy) with their Sabro Double IPA. At 7.5% ABV and more than 100 (calc) IBU, this is a hazy flavourful ode to this newer experimental hop. A very similar beer, by the same name, saw a one-time release in May 2019, as part of the “Single Hop IPA” competition at the Stillwell Open (brewed with our own acbbchris). This beer has had a few tweaks made to it, but not many! Like last year, the beer features a massive tropical nose and flavour of pineapple, passionfruit, and coconut, with a smooth body and balanced bitterness. No fruit added to this beer, that’s all from the Sabro hops! Available on draught for growler fills (both Prop Shops) and pints (at their Gottingen Street taproom, and at licensees across the province), as well as in cans at Prop both locations, plus at many NSLC locations across the province (check store availability here). And fear not fans, unlike last year, this beer will be sticking around for a spell, at least through winter and spring.
And in case you missed it, Propeller released a very different beer last week, a Rauchbier. Focussing on the malt side of things, this features a light smoke character thanks to the beechwood-smoked malt used. Melded with a pleasant toast character from medium-dark malts, the hops are there only for a balancing act. Fermented with lager yeast means this is a clean and crisp beer without anything getting in the way of the light flavour. This is a draught-only release, with growlers and pints of the 5.0% ABV beer available now. And as if you needed another reason to visit, today’s Cask at their Gottingen Street taproom is Baltic Porter on Oak aged in rum. That is tapped at 5 PM, and lasts… until it doesn’t.
Over in Miramichi, Timber Ship Brewing has released their first new beer in several months, Peabody Porter. This English Porter (usually sweeter than their American counterparts) was brewed with Maris Otter, Brown malt and Chocolate malt in the grist, and hopped with the Fuggle variety to 27 IBUs. Once fermentation was complete (it rings it at 5% ABV), the beer was allowed to condition on vanilla beans for some time, to complement the notes of coffee and dark chocolate in the flavour. Look for it on tap at your favourite Timber Ship accounts.
TrailWay is launching their latest batch of El Generico, their constantly rotating fruited kettle sour. The latest batch – released today – features a large addition of peach puree, as well as a small amount of passion fruit concentrate. Stone fruit is obviously the center of attention here, with “an overall tropical vibe” and moderate acidity. Cans and on tap at the brewery and elsewhere too!
And while on the subject of TrailWay, they still have two new-as-of-last-week hoppy beers available at the brewery (on tap and in cans). South Island (6% ABV) is their newest American IPA, which was single-hopped with the very difficult to source Nelson Sauvin. This New Zealand variety is well-known for the gooseberry character it imparts in beer; South Island also exhibits grape and grapefruit. Next up is Box Theories, an 8% ABV DIPA that focuses on Strata, a fairly new hop variety that gives the beer lots of tropical fruit (especially mango and melon, according to the brewery), as well as citrus and tangerine. The beer was also brewed with small amounts of Munich and Rye malt, and flaked grain, to provide a bit more malt character than is typical for TW’s hoppier offerings. Look for this one to pop up at ANBL stores in the not-too-distant future.
Finally in TrailWay news, they rang in the New Year by making full use of their taproom beer engine by “reinventing” their cask program. The plans are to brew a new beer every month, with these beers specifically designed to be served via the beer engine. Their first release was Dry Stout, their 5% ABV take on the style of the same name. Also known as an Irish Stout, the beer is “slightly roasty and coffee-forward, complemented by some chocolate sweetness”. No word yet on the next release, but we’re all for well-made beers poured via handpump (and cool to see it served in their new 10 oz British-style Nonic glassware).
Edmundston’s Petit-Sault so enjoyed the first Brut beer that they brewed (Brighid, a collaboration with Big Tide’s Wendy Papadopoulos for International Women’s Day), they’ve gone ahead and created a completely new one. La Pêchée is a Brut IPA hopped with heavy amounts of Mosaic, Galaxy and Amarillo, and features an addition of peach puree. Which the peach definitely comes through in the aroma, this 8.8% ABV beer is definitely not sweet; enzymes were added to help the yeast chew up any remaining sugars, so the beer finishes very dry, with a lingering bitterness. It’s only available at the brewery; you can pick it up there in growlers or in bottles.
Back in Nova Scotia, Dartmouth’s New Scotland Brewing teamed up with their pals across the bridge at Timber Lounge to release a special collaborative brew. Long-time supporters of local craft beer, the axellent people at Timber Lounge were looking to spruce things up on their taps, and New Scotland bowed their way in to help. OK, enough of my horrible puns. Timbeer is a 6.0% ABV Spruce-infused Ale, but the name alone does not tell the whole story… Using spruce bows and bark hand selected by TL’s Darren Hudson (World Champion lumberjack), the New Scotland crew did an overnight infusion of the brewing water with the wood, before sparging traditional European malt, adding Old World hops, and fermenting it with Kveik yeast. Think Norwegian farmhouse ale, but with a Nova Scotian twist. That extra effort is worth it, as the beer is brimming with spruce character on a pale base. This is a Timber Lounge / New Scotland exclusive (and limited) release, so be sure to drop by one, or both, to grab a pint of it before it makes like a tree, and leaves. (sorry, had to do it)
Out of the bustling metropolis of Hanwell, NB, comes a welcome re-release from our friends at Niche Brewing. If you love you some hops but are looking for a bit of a break from the ultra hazy, super juicy, low bitterness, soft mouthfeel NEIPAs that are currently dominating the market and are waxing sentimental for a good old West Coast IPA, then Niche has you covered. First released a few months ago, North Park harkens back to a time when nobody suspected anyone of putting flour in their beer. Piney, fruity, and a bit dank, owing to the use of some classic American hop varietals (Simcoe and Columbus in the kettle, more of the same plus Citra in the dry hop), it weighs in at 6% ABV. Not a candidate for the IBU wars, this one’s still plenty bitter at 45 IBU. Look for it at the usual Niche tap accounts as well as the ANBL Moncton North Growler Station (which is also scheduled to have their Day Tripper Belgian Tripel real soon now). And in other Niche release news, this time on the packaged side, version 2 of their barrel-aged saison, Evolution, will be available next week at select ANBL stores. Featuring the house culture that they’ve been nurturing and using since they opened, it was aged in the same Chardonnay barrel as version 1 and Golden Flair for about 6 months. Super dry, extra bubbly, and slightly tart, it comes in at 6.8% ABV. And stay tuned for more bottled Niche news as they’re pledging to package more this year and even if that doesn’t work out (bottling sucks, folks), we happen to know that the one they’ve got coming up next is pretty special.
Sober Island Brewing in Sheet Harbour has officially opened their taproom, and are continuing the celebrations this weekend and next, with the space open Saturday and Sunday afternoon, 2 – 5 PM. They are then switching to full winter hours, which means more access to their taps and crowlers on Thursday and Friday, when they are open 4 – 9 PM both days, and are featuring Trivia each Thursday night beginning at 7 PM. Those hours begin on Thursday the 16th, and will continue until they open up 7 days a week in the summer, after all of their renovations, improvements, and expansions are complete, which includes doubling their taps to eight. Pouring now are their Beth’s Black Oyster Stout, Marigold Blonde, and a fresh batch of their IPA. And they’ll soon be pouring an Old Ale that we’ll fill you in on when we have more information.
Lunenburg’s Shipwright Brewing released a pair of new beers over the last two weeks, on decidedly different ends of the spectrum. Due South Pina Colada Milkshake IPA features the addition of raw coconut and fresh pineapple, along with some lactose (milk sugar), complementing the massive hops addition, resulting in a 7.2% ABV, 80 IBU beer. And on the other end, Rum Row is a 9.9% ABV, 40 IBU Imperial Stout, that was aged on cranberries from Terra Beata farm and Ironworks Distillery Bluenose Rum-soaked oak cubes. Rich dark malt, tart cranberry, and dark rum notes blend together in this beer. Both should still be available on tap and in crowlers at the brewery, and also at the Grand Banker.
Montague, PEI’s Copper Bottom Brewing released their inaugural brew in their Field Trip series, featuring different fruit featured in kettle sours. The first release is Field Trip: Pomegranate, jam packed with the eponymous fruit, complementing the tart and sessionable underlying beer. This 5.0% ABV beer is still on tap at the brewery and available to go in cans.
Is it already getting to be FCBF 2020 time? Eek! Here’s the pertinent info on another related event going on in Freddie that week:
With the Fredericton Craft Beer Festival two months away (still a few tickets left for the Friday night session as well as Saturday afternoon), the other events surrounding the fun weekend are coming into focus. One of which is the Down East Brew Conference, happening on Thursday and Friday, March 5 & 6. Aimed at those in the brewing and distilling industry, or those looking to get into it, there are two full days of talks on all aspects of the craft. From malt and hops history and analysis, how to treat and test your yeast, as well as trademark and tap room operations, attendees will be sure to learn a thing or two. Speakers are coming from across the country, as well as the US, and there will be plenty of time for socializing and networking. The conference will also feature a Tradeshow floor with booths from suppliers and producers. Tickets (and the full agendas) for attendees are available here (don’t forget to use code DEBC20 to save $30 off admission if you are a member of any of the provincial brewery/alcohol associations).
And, as usual, here’s a couple more quick newsbites before you get on towards your first weekend of 2020!
Big Spruce’s Conniption Fit, a 4% ABV Golden Ale, has only been around for a very short time, but cans are already hitting NSLC stores across the province. Crisp and refreshing, it was brewed with the word “sessionable” in mind, and now it’s even easier for you to get it into your home (and then your stomachs)!
Flying Boats has a “Brewer’s Test Recipe” batch exclusively on tap at their taproom in Dieppe; Mango Wheat Ale (5.3% ABV) was brewed with mango puree to give plenty of tropical flavour.
Our regular schedule of Friday afternoon posting has some downsides and one of them is that sometimes a small batch of special beer is released earlier in the week and we can’t tell you in time. Such is the case with CAVOK Brewing’s Alpha Canis Majoris, Cuvée 2019, a Sirius (hah!) 4.5% ABV mixed-fermentation beer with Brettanomyces and dark berries (dark cherries, blackberries, blueberries and raspberries) that was aged for some 4 months before packaging. Only 80 bottles were available when it was released on the 31st of December and we’re told that there were only a few left as of yesterday morning so we don’t suspect there are any remaining at this point, but we thought we’d let you know so you can keep an eye out for more interesting releases from CAVOK in the future (Cuvée 2019 does sort of imply that there might be a Cuvée 2020, now, doesn’t it!).